historic trees san diego Maggie McCann Kensignton
Power lines along in alley behind in the Kensington neighborhood on Oct. 19, 2021. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

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After about two years of searching, California’s second largest publicly-run power buying agency, San Diego Community Power, has finally selected its new commander in chief. 

Karin Burns, vice president of corporate development at the Bay Area-based Franklin Energy, will join the agency April 18. Her current company focuses on finding clean energy and energy efficiency solutions for utilities and public and private customers. 

“This is an organization I’m very excited to join because it brings together two of my longstanding passions, clean energy and community development,” Burns said. 

Her role will be guiding a fledgling agency that’s just starting to roll-out power to its five San Diego cities and the county. San Diego Community Power committed itself to providing electric rates that are lower or at least competitive with San Diego Gas and Electric, which was the sole power provider in San Diego for over a century.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” said Mat Vasilakis, co-director of policy at Climate Action Campaign, who served as a community representative on the CEO search committee. “She’s well-qualified and well-versed on important aspects of what will be essential to our clean energy future, including rooftop solar, storage and elevating communities of concern.”

The CEO has the power to execute power purchase agreements and contracts, like a solar power project in Jacumba that’s become highly controversial. And she’ll guide the agency towards the ultimate goal of providing 100 percent renewable energy by 2035.

The search for CEO hit a hiccup about a year ago when the board’s first national search for a leader selected the agency’s second-in-command, Cody Hooven. But a state ethics watchdog ruled her ineligible because she helped set up the organization’s bylaws. 

Burns will make $350,000 a year plus $50,000 relocation expenses for her move from the Oakland area to Southern California. Her contract lasts three years.

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